Friday, February 28, 2020

Weekend Reading: The Don't Panic Edition

I had a delightful rollerblade today. Beautiful weather, not many people out... just wonderful.

I've been thinking a lot about what I can expect myself to do to help fix things in the world, and what I can give myself a pass on. I may write a full post about this soon. First, I want to think some more about what it would mean to really give myself a pass on some things.

Anyway, let's get to the links.

In politics:

This David Roberts essay about the crisis of trust in America right now is really good, and the bit at the end clearly articulates my biggest worry about Bernie Sanders as a nominee (and then President): That he's promising big change with no realistic plan for achieving it. (Sorry, I don't think there's going to be a groundswell of protests to propel his agenda forward and even if there is, I don't think it would move Republican Senators.)

But this is not something I can fix and no one really knows what will happen in the primary, the general election, or after the election... so I'm telling myself to wait and see.

If you're freaking out about Sanders as a potential nominee... this Robert Reich essay may help.

My main insight from my beach walk on Wednesday was that there is no need to panic about any of the possible outcomes. We don't know what will happen, and so I shouldn't borrow trouble. I should work for my preferred outcome, make some sensible hedges against less desirable outcomes, and remember that freaking out is counterproductive.

In coronavirus news:

Zeynep Tufecki's post about how to prepare for when the outbreak reaches your area is really good.

The latest reports indicate we're starting to see community transmission in Northern California. We'll see it other places, too. Now is the time to make sensible preparations. Practice washing your hands more and better (and get your kids to do it, too). Work on breaking your habit of touching your face (this will be hard but I did something similar when we took our big Circle Pacific trip and it gets easier with practice, so start practicing now!) and try not freak out.

Remember that a lot of the advice is about trying to "flatten the curve" - space out infections a bit more so that hospitals will have the bandwidth to give all of the serious cases the attention they need.

Also, if you have the means, maybe start thinking about how we'll cushion the economic blow this situation is going to have on so many people, both the people without adequate insurance who get sick and the people without the ability to work from home who lose income.

Here's another post with sensible preparation advice, from an infectious disease researcher in Australia.

Here's a first hand account of having coronavirus from someone from the cruise ship. It sounds like has a pretty mild case.

This is funny:

This is amazing:

Here's your weekly bunny!

That's all I have this week. There was a weird moment at this week's debate where the candidates were asked what their motto was. I thought mine would be borrowed from Voltaire: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." But maybe this week, I should borrow from Douglas Adams instead and make it "DON'T PANIC."

Happy weekend, everyone!

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